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British Prime Ministers Questions

News/Business. (2012) The drawdown of British troops in Afghanistan by the end of 2013.

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Afghanistan 11, Miliband 5, Us 4, Britain 3, David Crosby 2, John 2, Pakistan 2, Cuba 2, Ashley 1, Rebecca Brooks 1, Karzai 1, Eu 1, Mentoring 1, Unturned 1, Nissan 1, Tom Clarke 1, Anderson 1, Baldwin 1, Bulgaria 1, Cde 1,
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  CSPAN    British Prime Ministers Questions    News/Business.  (2012) The drawdown of  
   British troops in Afghanistan by the end of 2013.  

    December 24, 2012
    12:30 - 1:05am EST  

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i am sure that the whole house will wish to join me in sending our best wishes for christmas to our brave armed forces in afghanistan. it to their families who will be missing them, and to the servicemen and women around the world -- you are always in our thoughts. we owe you a deep debt of gratitude and sinew our -- and our heartfelt thanks at christmastime. i have meetings, and in addition to my duties i shall have further such meetings later today. >> thank you, mr. speaker. thanks my right honorable friend for comments about wishing a merry christmas to our service families under deployment -- service members under diplomat and their families. could my friend also tell me what progress has been made to remove the metals -- give the metals, especially those who served in arctic convoys, for their bravery?
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>> here, here. >> i thank my friend. on the issue of medals, which is gone on for a very long time, i am delighted to tell the house we have reached a resolution to conduct a review -- not just into medals in general, but to look at one of the most important cases. he has completed his work and i thank him for what he has done. more details will come from the minister of defense in the new year, including how veterans can apply. i am pleased to tell -- on at the arctic convoys, sir john has recommended that there will be in arctic convoy star medal. i am very pleased that some of the brave men of the arctic convoys will get the recognition they are richly deserved for the dangerous work they did. sir john concluded that they have been treated inconsistently with those who served in fighter command. he has therefore recommended, and i also agree, that the
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bomber command be awarded a bomber command cross. i pay tribute to the members who campaigned hard over these issues and am glad we have released a resolution that is proper and right. >> ed miliband. >> i want to start by joining the prime minister in paying tribute to the troops in afghanistan who continued to show a huge courage and bravery. it is particularly important at this time of year to remember that and their families, many oftheir families are in all our thoughts. i also want to welcome the government announcement today on reducing the number of troops in afghanistan during 2013. we await the defense secretary's statement -- can the prime minister tell the house how many troops and civilians will be left with in afghanistan after the 2014 deadline, and whether they will be there under afghan-led command?
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>> i join the leader of the opposition in welcoming what our troops do. on afghanistan, we have to decisions to make. first of all, the decision about the drawdown between now and the end of 2013, and what the -- of 2014, and what the defense secretary would announce is because of the success of our forces and the afghan national security forces and the fact that we are moving from a man during a battalion level to mentoring at a grade level by the end of 2013, will be able to see troops come home in two relative even steps, leaving about 5200 troops after the end of 2013. compared with the 9000 we have now. it is to pay tribute to the incredible work they have done, tour. this book with particularly --
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they were impressed by the afghan national sources -- those who i spoke with particularly were impressed by the afghan national forces. no one in a combat role, nothing like the troops we have now -- we promised the afghans who will provide the officer training academy have specifically asked him some other issues above and beyond that, but that is the starting baseline. >> ed miliband. >> can i thank the prime minister for that answer. given the thousands of troops who will still be in harm's way in afghanistan, can the prime minister tell us what specific effort the government is making with the international community to match the continuing military efforts with the greater diplomatic efforts that i know he and i both think are important, because after all behind or has our best chance of peace in afghanistan which is so important? >> he is entirely right. as well as a military track, there has always been a political and diplomatic track. after 2014, after december 2014
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there will still be some troops who will be involved in returning equipment and dealing with logistics'. exact announcements will be made at a later stage. in terms of the work that we will go on doing, because we will not be leaving afghanistan in terms of our support and are called for the afghans -- will be contributing 70 million pounds a year to help pay for the afghan national security forces. we will have an aid program in excess of 170 million pounds a year for afghanistan. in terms of the diplomatic track, the thing we are most focused on is bringing afghanistan and pakistan to gather. i have posted meetings between -- hosted meetings between the two presidents. i hope to host for the meetings, including early in the new year. i spoke to president karzai this morning to keep working on this vital relationships of pakistan and afghanistan can see they have a shared interest in a stable future. >> ed miliband. >> i am grateful to the prime
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minister for that answer -- i want to turn to another issue. i want to recognize the work of thousands of volunteers helping out in our nation's food banks and the millions of people who are donating food to them. mr. speaker, is the prime minister as concerned as i am that there has been a sixfold increase in three years in the number of people relying on food banks? >> let me echo what he said about volunteers and people who work hard at our communities. part of what i call the big society -- to help people in need. it is very important. i do share -- it is a good time of year to thank our volunteers and what they do, but i do share his concern about people who are struggling to pay the bills, budget. of course, the most important thing is to get on top of inflation, and inflation is coming down. the most important thing is to get more people into work and out of poverty. we see 600,000 more private- sector jobs this year. we are helping those families by freezing the council tax and by making sure that we help families with the cost of living. >> ed miliband.
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>> mr. speaker, we both pay tribute to workers and volunteers, but i never thought the big society was about feeding hungry children in britain. the problem is working people are turning to food banks. one head teacher of a teacher rated at standing says that even children with a parent or parents in work are often struggling with the choice between heating their homes, buying their children clothes, or buying them food. a report last week by the children's society said that 2/3 teachers were providing people with food or money to prevent them going hungry. mr. speaker, why does he think is happening, and why does it appear to be getting worse on his watch? >> i agree. we do have to do more to help the poorest in our country. that is why we have lifted the personal tax and have taken 2 million of the lowest paid people and remove tax altogether.
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if you take someone who is on a minimum wage to works full- time, because of the tax changes we have made, their income tax bill has been cut in half. i would also make this point -- i would also make this point. because of the decisions we made in this government to increase the child tax credit by 390 pounds ahead of inflation, we have helped those families with bills and will continue to do more in the future. >> speaker, i am afraid this is very out of touch with families -- the problem is, but the chancellor did not tell us in the autumn statement was his tax will be hitting working families up and down the country.
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in the third year of his government, more children are going hungry and more families are relying on food banks. is it not the clearest indictment of his government's values -- while low and middle income families are hit, at the same time he is giving an average of a 107,000 pound tax cut to people earning over 1 million pounds a year. >> what is out of touch is deficit that we had to deal with. that is what we have had to do. the same time as cutting taxes for the poorest in our country, increasing child tax credit, and ashley freezing the casual tax -- actually freezing the tax to help the families. when it comes to the top rating -- the richest in our country will pay more in tax under every year of this government than any year of his government. those are the facts. he may not like them, but he cannot deny them. >> ed miliband. >> the problem is, nobody believes him anymore. and we know who this prime minister stands up for. where was he last weekend -- back to his old ways, partying
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with rebecca brooks. no doubt both looking forward to the boxing day hunt, mr. speaker. that is before he was elected -- he can represent everyone in your country, you cannot be a one-nation party. that was then. this is now. everybody knows you cannot be a one-nation prime minister. >> mr. speaker, it would not be christmas without the repeats. that is all we ever get. that is all we ever get from the honorable gentleman. done this year -- we have 6000 more private-sector jobs. we said would help with the cost of living -- we froze the casual -- the council tax. we have cut the deficit by a quarter. what have we heard from him this year? what has he had told us about what has he told us about welfare? nothing. what has he told us about his education plan? nothing.
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the fact is he has got absolutely nothing to offer except for the same old something for nothing culture that got us in this mess in the first place. >> a democratic society -- will the prime minister -- >> order, order. members must now come down. -- calm down. it is the questions and the answers must be heard. therefore seek assurances from the commissioner of the metropolitan police that no stone will be left unturned in getting to the full truth about allegations that a police officer suffocated evidence against a member of the cabinet? >> let me say, at christmastime, it is right to pay tribute to break police officers, men and women who look after us around
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the clock and do an extremely good job. but the point my honorable friend has made is important. a police officer posing as a member of the public and sending an e-mail to blacken the name of a cabinet minister is a serious issue and needs to be investigated. the metropolitan police service truth of this matter as quick as complaints commission will bewe should allow them to get to the truth. >> david anderson? >> despite what the prime minister has said -- the diseases of rickets and tuberculosis -- food banks are increasing. kids are going to school hungry. we have a stagnant economy. does the paul -- prime minister acknowledge his policies have
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taken the country back to the 1930's? >> i would hope the honorable gentleman would be celebrating the fact that nissan has announced another 125 million pounds of investment into our country. one of the biggest and most successful car plants anywhere but the fact is we have over 1 million private-sector jobs last year and this year. some of the fastest rates of newthat is what is happening. yes there are tough times and tough choices, but our economy is rebalancing and we should recognize that. >> in march we introduced a new local green space designation to protect green spaces, not just for landscape painters but for suburban communities in my constituency. can the prime minister reassure
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should use this new designation and that it has not been undermined by any recent pronouncements? >> i would reassure my friend that the national planning policy framework was 1000 pages long, now just 50 pages long -- that is our planning framework. we're giving great power to have neighborhood plan so that these decisions can be made where they should be -- more locally. >> having had a suicide note from a constituent of mine who took his own life -- having no longer received disability benefits. how do you respond to the thousands of people who have died -- this is 2012. we are supposed to be a civilized society. we should be looking after the disabled citizens here in the
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u.k. will the prime minister listen to the thousands of people who signed the petition and finally, please, order an assessment of all changes for disabled people in this country? >> here, here. >> i will look very carefully. obviously it is a very tragic case that the gentleman brings to the house. everyone's thoughts will go out to that person's family and what has happened to them. what i would say to him is the actual money we are putting into disability benefits over the coming years is going up and not down, but i think everybody knows and everyone accepts that we need to have a review of disability benefits. some people have been stuck on reviewed for year after yearthat is the view of the disability charities and that of the government as well. >> . baldwin.
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>> thank you, mr. speaker. as we approach christmas, will the prime minister john me in celebrating the fact that there are more people in employment this christmas than there have ever been in this nation of great britain? >> the honorable lady makes an important point. the leader of the opposition said in january that unemployment was going to go up -- that is the prediction he made. he said that. the fact is, unemployment has come down, employment has gone up. a record fall in youth unemployment in the last quarter. all those things are welcome, particularly as we see such a growth in the private sector. everyone knows that we have to have a rebalancing of ourthat is what is happening. >> merry christmas, mr. speaker. >> can we have a vote on that?
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>> thank you. people realize now that the prime minister has a dickensian view of the u.k. -- grandeur for the few, workhouse for the many. while delimiting welfare benefits for parents caring for adults with disabilities. can we have an explanation? from ebenezer prove -- ? >> i would say -- there will be cases of speaking opportunities in the new year. we have not restricted disability benefits. we have put more money into disability benefits. that is what this government is doing. what i would say -- we have taken difficult decisions to increase tax credits by 1%, to increase public sector pay by
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1%, and to increase out of work benefits by 1%, and that is a decision that needed to be taken. >> last week, the census figures revealed that the previous government presided over the country has ever seen. yet next christmas our borders will be flung even wider to potentially limitless immigration, with 29 million people who live in romania and bulgaria. will my friend looks seriously at triggering the national interest clauses buried deep in the eu directives to stem this new flow, especially for those with criminal records or those who seek access to our welfare benefits? >> first of all, let me echo what my honorable friend said. the last government allowed a completely uncontrolled system of migration, where we saw a net immigration of 200,000 a year. 2 million people across a
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decade. that is to cities the size of birmingham today in our country every year. not one word of apology for the mass that they left. -- mess they left. my friend makes an importantas the controls come off the accession countries, i will look carefully at what he says. we do have rules to try to restrict access to benefits. we'll go on working to make is as robust as possible. i mention the national interest europe on monday. triggered if there are emergency conditions, but i will look carefully at what he said. >> the prime minister told the house universal credit-card to put in work incentives for all people of -- all levels of income. why then does the department say universal credit will mean
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working women will consider getting off work? >> that is not the case at all. benefits together, what it means is people will always be better off in work and working extra hours. they have had 13 years to sort failed. >> mark spencer. pimped>> my constituent is currently stuck in cuba, despite having a british passport. i wonder if the prime minister could encourage cuban authorities to look with speed to try to get him back with his family for christmas. >> i understand why my friend raises this case -- he was born in cuba and entered the u.k., but obtained a british passport in 1997. we are in regular contact with the cuban authorities, who have
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advised him that he should expect to receive his cuban passports this week, which will enable him to travel. ultimately the decision does rest with cuban authorities, but to assist him and we will keep in touch with the gentleman. >> in april, the prime minister stated energy efficiency will be placed at the heart of government policy. on monday of this week, the government's fuel advisory group warned that there could be over 9 million households in the fuel poverty. and that is 25% of all households in stoke-on-trent. can the prime minister tell us why for next year, expenditure on heating insulation programs for low-income households will be halted? -- will be has billable of 2010 to 2011? ms. we will behalf level -- will be half the level of 2010 to
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2011? >> i know the lady takes a deep interest -- the green a deal is a bigger and better program being brought in. i would make the point that labour promised to abolish fuel party altogether in 2005, and yet fuel party came up. we have done is we have maintained the payments and increased the cold weather payments. we're making money available under the fund. the green deal -- some of the biggest schemes ever introduced in the country. >> does the prime minister agree with the shadow health secretary that any increase in the expenditure of the nhs would be, as he put it, irresponsible? >> my friend makes an important point. in a recent health debate, the health secretary asked the health secretary -- shall help secretary, does he stand by his to increased nhs spending? do.
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it may be christmastime, and the shadow south secretary is the gift that keeps on giving. >> mr. speaker, last week 100 young homeless people came to this house for the first ever young homeless people's parliament. present and the ministers who came to engage with them. they were excellent young people, giving a powerful, personal testimony as to why setting out in no uncertain terms what they expect from us can i ask the prime minister this question -- above all, they want their voice to be heard. they agreed that they would seek a meeting with the prime minister. will the prime minister received -- receive a
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delegation of this young homeless people? >> first of all, can i join you in welcoming the fact that they came to parliament to make these points. i will listen carefully to what they have to say. i think the truth is in our country we have seen housing benefits increase by something and even under our plans housing benefits will continue to in britain is build more homes -- in the private sector and the us. an eye of a credit to the planning ministers and others to make this happen. -- and i credit the planning ministers. >> mr. speaker, the closure of the originally state sponsored lifeline helicopter service two months ago has presented significant challenges to islanders and medical services and the economy. the local people are not the stakeholders -- they are working together. will the prime minister be prepared to meet a small delegation in order to explore in this hour of desperate need?
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>> my friend makes an important point. vital. other providers are looking to fill the gaps that have been left by the helicopter service. this would provide the most long-term and sustainable option rather than government subsidy. obviously, we have to look at all the options. it is a part of the country that needs to be connected to the mainland. if it is necessary to have the meeting, then of course i will. >> david crosby. order, let's have a bit of order for mr. david crosby. >> when the robbers stole 2.5 million pounds from royal mail, as 30 years in prison. yet when our bankers get caught fraudulently taking billions of pounds from poor people throughout the world, they just pay a fat corporate fine and walk away.
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how can we do anything together as long as we tolerate corporate villains who are too frivolous to be put behind bars? >> the gentleman makes an important point. that is why the weekly review into the libor scandal recommended criminal sanctions. i think when people have broken the law, they should face the full force of the criminal law. what punishment we should design for people who sold our gold at half price is another matter altogether. >> you mentioned a terrible condition that destroys lives -- will my honorable friend the
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commending the county council on local health care, developing dementia portal that is providing services to dementia sufferers and their carers? >> i am happy to join in pain to be to the council. we need to do far more as a country to tackle dementia. there are three important parts -- first is to recognize this is a disease, and not just a natural part of aging. we need to increase the research in hospitals and care homes and make sure there is far more dignity. it is something we're all communities have to come together and make more dementia- friendly communities, and that bring organizations together, as they have obviously done there. >> one minister has pleaded guilty for charges -- can the prime minister please remind the house how many times he has ridden with the hunt, and whether he used his own horse? >> i can happily put on record
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that i have never broken the law in this regard. my honorable friend that those of my constituents to have most strongly been in favor of performing at benefits focusing more on those who need them -- long hours to subsidize the lifestyles of those who do not want to work? >> my honorable friend makes an important point. we made three difficult decisions -- we have set a 1% pay freeze on the public sector, a 1% increase on working
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benefits, and 1% freeze on tax credits. the party opposite supports the -- but they do not support the 1% increase on the welfare benefits. work, incomes should be going up faster than people who are in profoundly out of touch with a nation and why they are not in government. and his name in trouble over phone hacking, the prime minister might be stuck alone over christmas watching films on tv. i have a quick span of the titles -- "the grinch who stole chancellor of the exchequer. or "is not a wonderful life for the poor," starring him.
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>> we will have to have a "muppets christmas carol" instead. i do have one suggestion -- everybody knows the shadow chancellor does a brilliant job playing santa at the christmas party every year. he does an excellent job -- why not give everyone an early arrangement permanent, and give him the sack? >> are we all in order? order. the house should hear the voice of bacon. >> does the prime minister agree with the increasing number of informed commentators who believe that the fencing of investment banking subsidiaries will not work properly, and what is required is complete separation?
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>> the government has looked to this issue very carefully. obviously we commissioned the report which came up with the idea of fencing. i think that is right -- the is that if a bank fails it can fail safely without taxpayers happen to stump up the money to sort it out. that would be a major advance and something the whole country would support. >> mr. speaker, the prime minister will be aware of the the attorney general's application to cross the verdict was upheld by the high court. he will understand that this now will involve the families in a
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great deal of legal issues to make sure they are properly represented. will he agree to waive the vat on the cde, the proceeds of which will go directly to hillsborough families? they have long wanted to have this new inquest, and the system has moved relatively rapidly since they were debated in this house to help bring that about. i have received information and as the first lord of the treasury, i think i can confidently predict that it will be a decision that will go down. >> as this is the good season of a good season and humbug, the
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top tax was 40 p, the gap between rich and poor was widens, and they left more in the gap? >> they left a record deficits. -- deficit. they have never apologized for a word of it. >> last, but not least, tom clarke. >> there are people who are perhaps watching the proceedings to are very interested in the issue of poverty. the body which advised that we are approaching 9 million households, a record, since
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records first began, and will be explained to the house and to our constituents as we approach christmas, what is the government prepared to do about this horrible scandal of fuel poverty? >> the honorable gentleman is entirely right that this is a scandal. as i said, we are committed to tackling poverty. we have kept the increase permit. we are and molesting him -- investing in a scheme and they promised to abolish fuel poverty, but they put it up. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national